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A chant (from French chanter, from Latin cantare, "to sing") is the iterative speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one or two main pitches called reciting tones. Chants may range from a simple melody involving a limited set of notes to highly complex musical structures, often including a great deal of repetition of musical subphrases, such as Great Responsories and Offertories of Gregorian chant. Chant may be considered speech, music, or a heightened or stylized form of speech. In the later Middle Ages some religious chant evolved into song (forming one of the roots of later Western music).
Chant as a spiritual practice
Chanting (e.g., mantra, sacred text, the name of God/Spirit, etc.) is a commonly used spiritual practice. Like prayer, chant may be a component of either personal or group practice. Diverse spiritual traditions consider chant a route to spiritual development.
Some examples include chant in African, Hawaiian, and Native American, Assyrian and Australian Aboriginal cultures, Gregorian chant, Vedic chant, Qur'an reading, Islamic Dhikr, Baha'i chants, various Buddhist chants, various mantras, Jewish cantillation, and the chanting of psalms and prayers especially in Roman Catholic (see Gregorian chant or Taizé Community), Eastern Orthodox (see Byzantine chant or Znamenny chant, for examples), Lutheran, and Anglican churches (see Anglican Chant).
Chant practices vary. Tibetan Buddhist chant involves throat singing, where multiple pitches are produced by each performer. The concept of chanting mantras is of particular significance in many Hindu traditions and other closely related Indian religions. India's bhakti devotional tradition centres on kirtan, which has a following in many countries and traditions such as Ananda Marga. The Hare Krishna movement is based especially on the chanting of Sanskrit Names of God in the Vaishnava tradition. Japanese Shijin (诗经), or 'chanted poetry', mirrors Zen Buddhist principles and is sung from the Dan tien (or lower abdomen) — the locus of power in Eastern traditions.
- Harper, Douglas (November 2001). "Chant". In McCormack, Dan (ed.). Online Etymology Dictionary. MaoningTech. Archived from the original on 26 October 2004. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 846. .
- Stolba, K. Marie (1994). The Development of Western Music: A History (2nd ed.). McGraw Hill. p. 734. ISBN 9780697293794.
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